One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious ~ Carl Jung
The shadow – according to Jung – is the repressed part of the unconscious. The shadow is everything you don’t want to admit about yourself, or to be, but are usually quite clear when you see it in someone else.
You know that guy at work that makes you so mad when he does that one thing – if you aren’t trying to bring the dark parts of you into the light – you might be seeing in him – the repressed part of yourself – that you find annoying – the shadow.
It’s easy to project our shadow onto everyone other than ourselves. We all do it and it’s a normal thing. So what’s the big deal?
If we take the time to recognize the shadow in ourselves, we find that we can move forward in life and the parts we like about ourselves get better too. We become less fearful of being found out, of our shadow taking over.
I was afraid of becoming THE FAT GIRL and when I looked in the mirror and was starting to see THAT FAT GIRL, I knew the shadow part of me, that is afraid, was taking over and making me bigger than I needed to be. It’s how I was coping with some things I didn’t want to change, but were making me miserable. I decided to get to know that fat girl and ask her to exercise with me. Instead of beating her up, I invited her in.
While running on a sunny day I noticed that my shadow, which I seldom see in rainy Portland, was large – I didn’t recognize myself. It became a metaphor for me – an indicator for change. As I began to deal with my shadow and uncover and admit my dark and scary places, by exercising, by asking myself the question – what do you really want?, by working on my “issues”. I saw my shadow shrink.
When I invited my shadow in, it stopped holding me back. Instead of being in the shadow, I could step into the sun. When I was in doubt that I was on the right path – I took a look at my shadow. Big or small?
If you are willing to accept yourself with all of the dark and scary things as well as the good things, you can speak from a new place – without fear of the dark parts of you being discovered and uncovered by someone else. It’s kind of like not keeping secrets from yourself anymore. Recognizing who you are and being okay with it.
Ignoring your shadow doesn’t make life easier, it forces us to be critical of other people.
Who looks outside, dreams… who looks inside, awakes. ~ Carl Jung
When I bump up against someone who rubs me the wrong way, I’ve started to ask this question and begin an inner dialogue with myself, what part of me do I see in them?
Why do I hate that guy so much?
Oh, well I think he’s a fraud and not living up to what he’s been asked.
BAM – there it is, it’s something I’m afraid for myself. Afraid to be a fraud?
I proclaim to be authentic, but what if I’m not? The opposite of authentic to me is disingenuous, which also means – FRAUD.
So, how can I accept that at times I might be a fraud or afraid of being a fraud.
Be ME. Truly me. That is not fraud, don’t fake it. Be ME. Ask yourself what you really want, have a dialogue with the part of you that you don’t like, INVITE HER IN.
Celebrate who you are in all your goodness and all your terribleness, we’re all broken bits. We can all change, but we shouldn’t be so critical of the bad parts of ourselves, we can’t always be good.
The more you honor your shadow, the better you are going to feel. I got your number shadow, I’m going to get to know you.
How is your shadow holding you back? What are you afraid of?